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Tibor Karaszi

Are we Borg?

Is it time to stop remeber things? For real, this time?

Today I needed to find two pieces of SQL Server related information. One was straight foward, I posted it on #sqlhelp on twitter and a minute or so later I had the answer. The other was a bit more involved and I asked around in our MVP mail list - a couple of hours later I had bunch of suggestions and tips. These are only examples, it could just as well have been some web-forum, newsgroup, or some other forum. We've all had cases like this, but it made me think and reflect.

Travel back in time, say 20 years or so. Computers were hard to use. Well, not computers per se, but rather the software made them hard to use. (Without software computers are easy to use - they don't do anything!) We were lucky if the software came with a printed manual. Whatever the quality of that manual.

Then came electronic help with the software. That was a big step forward. And it even had index and search!

With the Internet, things really started to pick up. Sure, there were BBS before that, but not broadly used. With Internet, we were given e-mail. Mail lists. Newsgroups. Altavista, Google and Bing (sounds like a supergroup). Web-forums. Facebook. Twitter. Etc. And not only that, we carry the Internet in our pockets, wherever we are.

So, this is what hit me today. I used to keep tips and tricks in a register. Nuggets I picked up, here and there. The past few years, I do less and less of this. There are so many great minds out there, who also are willing to lend a helping hand. So, almost when I realize I need some bit of information, that information is available. Sounds pretty much like the collective mind of the Borg to me. Perhaps not quite there yet, but give it a year or five.

But what worries me is: Where does that leave us, as human beings. Where is the difference between learning and remembering. Deducing versus asking and being given the information. I'm sure you can relate to this, at some level. For instance when we were forbidden to use pocket calculatos at school, because they were too powerful  Or the other way around.

To put it bluntly: If I don't have to remember anything about SQL Server (the info is out there, right?), I won't be a very profficient SQL Server person. I'm sure we can formulate lots of ways to differentiate between learning/creating/deducing and remembering. And, don't get me wrong. I think the development is really interesting - and the community out there is way cool.

But, I just find the development a bit interesting... and worrying ... and thrilling.

Published Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:47 PM by TiborKaraszi

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Kalen Delaney said:

Are you Borg? Wasn't the most famous Borg of all time a Swede?

February 9, 2011 6:49 PM

jchang said:

All we need now is the direct cerebral cortex - wifi/lte connection, we might even need 5G,

and I would get the unlimited plan too,

in the old days, radios had a hand crank for when the battery ran out, perhaps some kind of generator that can harness energy from walking

February 9, 2011 8:22 PM

TiborKaraszi said:

@Kalen: No, I don't think I'm Borg yet. And yes, one of the most famous Swede, still, is Borg, Björn Borg. I don't think he is Borg, though. (There was a line in that movie, rememer? "Sounds Swedish...".)

@Joe: Ah,the brain interface. I doubt I will live to see it (for real), but I don't doubt it will happen. As for energy, when we are at the implant stage, we can probably harness the chemical energy in our bodies. :-)

February 10, 2011 8:20 AM

jchang said:

if we can harness energy directly from the body!

that would be awesome,

text and lose weight at the same time!

February 10, 2011 10:16 AM

Jack said:

I think you are unnecessarily worried. As information sources are becoming powerful, vast and fast they are also dumb. (eg. goolge or any other search engine results!). But in turn these sources are making us more action oriented than remembering boring and buggy stuff which is going to change soon. Sooner or later the internet community must start realizing the way information is getting dirty and to stop it we need to make efforts to keep the right data and delete (or mark it as wrong info) to make it cleaner and more meaningful for our future generation.



February 14, 2011 5:09 AM

Claire said:

This is a really interesting question. Certainly we do not, now, search for information in the same way. The winnowing and weeding that is a prerequisitic with print-based research doesn't really exist anymore--instead, we're presented instantly with a list of answers, and it's up to us to then evaluate their credibility and choose the best one. And there are, usually, answers to things that before we either figured out on our own or let lie. There's an interesting debate in the Guardian on this subject:

To me, it's not that we're getting stupider or lazier at all--but we are getting choosier about what goes into our little grey cells.

February 14, 2011 3:54 PM

SQLChap said:

There has been some development on connecting up people directly to computers.

February 16, 2011 10:53 AM

JonasF said:

Over time this is a worry. Not right now though. I have many friends that are fully capable of finding the answer to their questions on Google but still can't process what they find. If you don't have the prerequisites you can't assimilate the new knowledge, and we haven't found any better ways of doing that than before. Studying & experience are still the only things that work - which is why I have a good job, so, no complaints.

Maybe.. if we leverage the power of the Denali feature "data quality services" to the entire internet.. nah, we're safe.

February 17, 2012 9:53 AM

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